Okay I've been listening the shit out of this. though it definitely is Isis and has a lot of their elements, overall this is a very different album. Obviously the biggest difference is the addition of the really clean vocals, unlike the buried ones of panopticon. I like some of the almost Egyptian sounding guitar parts.
I think this album will gain them many new fans, but I think it will also drive as many away (if they already hadn't written them off after panopticon). I don't thin kthe voals will really drive people away as I do the wankery and listlessness of some of the beginnings of the songs.. Though I'm still digesting it, overall I think this album works and for me will stand up against the rest of their material for future listenting. Anyways, here's a track by track breakdown.
1-Wrists of Kings (7:45)-Album starts off some tribalesque drumming as spacy guitars slowly start to join in. It's builds up until almost 3 minutes then breaks into a panoticonish type groove and then some singing starts. This works really well together IMO and makes a good case for the singing. The song continues to build dramatically and then breaks into some thick growling/screaming at the end. I really like this song and think it was a good start to the album
2-Not in Rivers, But in Drops (7:4-The beginning of this song is kinda weird, it sounds like something from Oceanic but played at a fast speed. This doesn't continue for very long as this song wastes no time in getting to singing. This first half of this song is kinda spacy and off time in parts which kinda throws me off, but it really starts to pay off at about 3 minutes when it starts gaining more focus and some more old school screamy type vocals are added.
3-Dulcinea (7:10)-This song has really grown on me. The first half is very beautiful and the second half is pure Isis.
4-Over Root and Thorn (8:31)- starts out with an eerie ambient soundscape then builds into a slow sparse "groove." The song doesn't really pick up until about 5 minutes when it gains focus and ends up being killer. They just need to cut out about 2 minutes off before getting to this part. The last couple of minutes is more eerieness with some heavier guitar added.
5-1000 Shards (6:17)- musically it lies between Oceanic and Panopticon, but has some really tripped out water sounding vocals on it. gets heavy for about 30 seconds at the end. solid song.
6-All Out of Time, All Into Space (34)- very spaced out interlude type track. sounds like House of Low Culture/Tribes of Neurot
7-Holy Tears (74)- first song to use a trade off of heavy/clean vocals. musically, it's a megalodon. this is a fucking awesome song from start to finish.
8-Firduos E Bareen (7:50)- song almost starts off like some kind of ambient trip-hop song but not really, it has this weird minimalist type feel that slowly builds as some strange guitar effects start to layer of it. then it gets spacier. but at 4 minutes it finally finds the groove and it all comes together. the bass really drives this for me. very different song for Isis and it would of been great if it didn't take so long getting there. overall I still really dig it.
9-Garden of Light (9:17)- very powerful song that doesn't fuck around. contains clean vocals, screaming, and killer music.
Personally I think they shoulda focused more on making a couple more songs like Wrists of Kings, Dulcinea, Holy Tears, and Garden of Light and laid off some of the real tripped out stuff. I think those songs are great and showed what this album could of been, but they spent too much time on some of the wanking off leading into a couple of the other songs. Like I said, I like it, and think overall it works, but IMO I think that the listlessness will be the shit turning others away. So just check it out and judge for yourselves.